Former US Rep. Corrine Brown to plead guilty in fraud case
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, whose initial conviction in a charity and tax fraud case was tossed out by an appeals court, will plead guilty before a second trial, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan scheduled a change of plea hearing Wednesday morning for Brown, a once-powerful Florida Democrat who had previously pleaded not guilty to 18 charges including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
Brown’s lawyers did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. It was not clear which specific charges Brown would plead guilty to.
The second trial had been set to begin Sept. 12. Brown’s original 2017 conviction was thrown out by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because Corrigan improperly removed a juror during deliberations who had said the “Holy Spirit” told him she was innocent.
Brown, 75, served about two years of a five-year sentence before her release in April 2020 because of fears her age made her more susceptible to the coronavirus pandemic in prison.
Before the fraud case, Brown represented the Jacksonville area in Congress for about 25 years. In 1992, after a state legislative career, she became one of the first three Black people elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction.
Prosecutors said she siphoned money from the One Door for Education Foundation for personal use. They said the pattern of fraud by Brown and her top aide included using hundreds of thousands of dollars from the foundation to pay for lavish parties, trips and shopping excursions.
Federal prosecutors said Brown, her chief of staff and One Door’s executive director used the charity to bring in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016, through donations and events including a high-profile golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass.
The Virginia-based One Door gave out only one scholarship, for $1,200, to an unidentified person in Florida, according to court documents.